Visits Top Gift Lists For Nursing Home Residents
Visits top the wish lists of most nursing home residents. But you, and
many others, may hesitate to visit someone who lives in a care facility
because you are not sure what to do.
Frequent short visits, however, bring immediate joy to those residents
with cognitive losses. Coming often helps them because they no longer can
retain a memory of your visit. Their emotional well-being receives an
immediate boost by having a familiar person sit next to them, hold hands,
share a cup of tea or walk with them.
You also might try small-group visits with your nursing home resident
rather than have several relatives arrive all at once. People who live in
a long-term care facility are often frail; minimize their fatigue by
having only one or two people visit at a time. Also, gently remind your
elder family member of names and relationships; don't question or quiz.
Remember other residents as you visit your loved one. Many residents don't
have family members who can visit them. A smile, a moment or two of
conversation, or a shared box of cookies brings extra pleasure to your
family member's friends. It also can raise the self-esteem of your family
member when he or she can share family visits with other residents.
The facility is an extension of the residents' own homes. While visiting,
compliment the surroundings, a special object in your loved one's room, a
bouquet in the living area or new carpet on the floor. Compliments help
them feel pride in their new surroundings. Also, smile and speak with the
If your family member has always loved games, bring one along, but if your
grandmother was a dignified lady who loved to entertain, pretty paper
plates with special holiday treats around a dining table may be more
Bring a small tape recorder and play some favorite music, or check with
the staff to see if you or a grandchild could play a song or two on the
piano. Offer to give a manicure, apply lotion, or brush your loved one's
Humor has a healing impact for those in a long-term care facility. Laugh
at yourself, chuckle about a funny story from the past or read a joke.
Visits aren't just for the holidays. Feelings of loss, separation, and
change make many days throughout the year difficult for residents. Give a
gift of frequent visits to your family member or to someone you don't even
know in long-term care. Ten minutes from your busy day can reassure, cheer
and affirm the dignity of these special family members.
Reprinted with permission from the National Network for Child Care - NNCC.